Do not come to Starstruck looking for dirt. This is not the way in Malta. But there are loads of fun, often self-deprecating anecdotes and notes of grace, like Emma Thompson’s confession to Maltin of her preference for Buster Keaton over her native compatriot Charlie Chaplin.
In 2018, Maltin revealed that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease four years earlier (“I’m healthy, I’m determined and I’m grateful,” he characteristically tweeted). He refuses to let him slow him down. His blog, Leonard Maltin’s crazy movie is available at leonardmaltin.com. He co-hosts the weekly “Maltin on Movies” podcast with his daughter, Jessie (over 300 episodes to date). They also speak film and answer questions live every Sunday on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.
When we spoke, he had just returned from a night in Akron, Ohio, where he discussed his career and life with the disease. Movies, he says, are the best medicine.
As you are the author of Disney movies, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you about Tommy Kirk, a Disney icon we just lost. When I was young, the films he made like “Old Yeller” and “The Shaggy Dog” first made me love films. What memories do you keep of him?
“Old Yeller” was going to debut on ABC on a Sunday night, and “Entertainment Tonight” sent me to the studio to interview Fess Parker, Dorothy McGuire and Tommy Kirk. It was pretty cool. I didn’t recognize Tommy; I hadn’t seen him for years. It was shocking at first, frankly. I tried to find a non-judgmental way to ask, “Where have you been? He said, “I stopped working because of illness; they are fed up with me.
Then I had a wonderful interview with him and Tim Considine for the 2006 release of the “Walt Disney Treasures” DVD of “The Hardy Boys” (a serial feature film on “The Mickey Mouse Club”). And it was really touching and heartwarming to see with my own eyes the total admiration that Tim had for him.
And now at Starstruck. Katie Couric’s memoir has just been published, and in the excerpts I’ve read, she takes the opportunity to settle scores with former colleagues, rivals and lovers, and has just burned all her bridges. We find very little of it in Leonard Maltin’s memoirs.